“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Writing Craft Recap for August

I have declared 2012 my year to learn the writing craft better. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some of the highlights of what I've learned.

Click here to check it out
I spent August soaking in the amazingly helpful, incredibly wonderful Bestseller Society - run by writing gurus Jeff Gerke, Mary DeMuth, and Thomas Umstattd. They call the site a writers conference in a box - and it is an ABSOLUTELY apt description. Audio and video classes on just about every aspect of fiction and nonfiction writing and marketing you could possibly want. I listened to/watched twenty-five different sessions on everything from the first fifty pages to dialogue to memoir to using fiction techniques in your nonfiction. If you can become a member, I truly cannot recommend it more highly.

And if you can't, just check out some of what I learned there, as well as from a few writing magazines.

From The Bestseller Society:
  • Often, when a book is published, only one person at the publishing house has actually read the entire book.   
  • When writing your first draft, dismiss the angry English teacher from your shoulder.
  • People are generally either plot-first or character-first novelists - and generally which ever one they start with, they're not so good at the other.
  • Myers-Briggs is a great way to create a complex character.
  • The three easiest ways to get your fiction manuscript rejected are telling and not showing, POV errors, and weak characters.
  • Description is not telling (as in "show don't tell")
  • Most readers come to fiction hoping for a movie in their head.
  • You are your voice - you are not somebody else's.
  • Memoir is retelling our story to ourselves.
  • The key of great writing is enticement: leave things out - enticing the reader all the way through until the "payoff" later in the book.
  • Fiction is about watching someone navigate a change.
  • The purpose of your story is to take your main character on his/her inner journey.
  • It takes ten thousand hours to establish yourself as a genius in something.
  • Your worth should not be tied to your work.
  • Failure does not automatically equal disobedience or sin. Failure is an important component of our lives - some lessons only failure can teach
  • Creating your plot is building the stage your character will change on.
  • The question to ask which will fix most telling is: Can the camera see it? (a couple others - can the microphone hear it? Can the senses pick it up?)
  • What makes a great writer is the village surrounding that writer – the people who are with you on your publishing journey. 
  • The first fifty pages of your book must engage your reader and set up the rest of the book.
  • Your story basically begins when your MC steps on stage - anything before that is a de-facto prologue. 
From the August and September Issues of The Writer:
  • Discipline, however it looks, is more important than writing every day.
  • We want to read about people who are more energetic, more motivated, and more driven than the average person.
  • This book looks WAY too fun!
  • A symbolic object in your story can represent something larger than itself and can be a shortcut to theme.
Good stuff, eh? Watch for my post NEXT month, when I feature, among other things, what I learn from the free ACFW course Plodding vs. Plotting.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength


  1. Love all these tips and you're right, Forgotten Bookmarks looks amazing!

    Happy writing!

  2. Thanks, Jan :) IT was a fabulous month.

  3. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I'm so bookmarking this page! I love the thoughts you've shared here, Joanne!

  5. These are good tips. I was a member for 2 months at the bestseller society and soaked up as much as I could. There is a lot to learn on that site. I wish it weren't so expensive. But if you have a a light load one month get a membership for that month and watch everything. It really is a conference in a box.

  6. So very VERY true Diana! I'm considering doing just that, possibly later this year.

    And thanks, Sarah and Writing. My pleasure!


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